Traced with a line of scruffy scooters,
the alley slants to quiet end.
The trash collector’s Honda, gray
and greasy brown, is not yet back
from rounds to stalls and mom-and-pop
convenience shops when, casual
in sleeveless shirt, the bellied guard
half halts. He lights a Lucky Strike
and plunks down on a plastic seat
set near a man with thinning salt-
and-pepper hair to listen, yawn,
and yawp. The shades – the taupes and grays –
of concrete structures stretch and daub
the asphalt and the scooters, fast
lay dark on dark as street lights glow
like lanterns celebrating dusk.
Not once or twice, a dozen times,
an iron-barred black gate bangs shut
as mothers, students, Giant bikes
maneuver by the potted plant –
a stunted evergreen – and nod
their heads or handlebars. Less mimed
respect for guards than fearing of
the shadows of the salmon-tiled shack.
For ink and paper, light and dark,
already are at parlous play.
In there – a palm-blocked meeting room –
where seven keen-eyed hobbyists
are practicing calligraphy,
an art of gravity and grace.
A careless turn of calloused hand,
a rice-white sheet wafts down.
© Greg Huteson
Greg Huteson‘s poems have appeared in or are forthcoming from SOFTBLOW, Better Than Starbucks, the Saint Katherine Review, The Road Not Taken, The Honest Ulsterman, and other journals. For the past twenty years, he’s lived in China and Taiwan, and his writing often reflects these contexts.